Achtung Baby

Last post before the big vacation. I’m going to stay at Berlin’s Hansa Studios for this album, but jump ahead about 14 years.

U2’s Achtung Baby was released in November 1991. It was partially recorded in Berlin, although the majority of the sessions took place in Dublin. The album is electronics heavy – a big departure from Rattle and Hum, as well as the previous studio albums from U2. Bono even described the album as “the sound of four men trying to chop down The Joshua Tree.”

Achtung Baby was also darker sounding than previous efforts, thanks in large part to songs such as “The Fly,” “Acrobat,” and “Love Is Blindness,” which deal with themes of helplessness, broken relationships, and (in the case of “Love Is Blindness”) violence in the name of love.

Sessions for Achtung Baby started in late 1990 in Berlin, where the band worked for six to eight weeks, after which they took a three-month break, resuming work at Elsinore (near Dublin) in February 1991. Supposedly, the Edge said that the magic just wasn't there (in Berlin), which created a tense atmosphere and friction among the band members as well as between the band and the album producers, Flood and Daniel Lanois.

The main problem was that the band had split into two camps over which direction they should take with the new album. Bono and Edge had spent the previous few months listening to alternative, rap, electronic, and dance music, and wanted to experiment with that sound. Larry and Adam, on the other hand, favored a style more in keeping with the band's previous work.

After abandoning the Berlin recording sessions and moving back to Dublin, a truce was reached. U2 found that they could still write good songs and get along together at the same time. 'One' in particular came from a few bars that Edge had worked out, and the rest improvised around. This was songwriting like they used to do it. Achtung Baby would include many of the new influences Bono and Edge had been so enthusiastic about, but it would still be a recognizable U2 record.

For tonight’s post, I’ve got the opening track, which I think is representative of the direction Bono and Edge wanted to go. “Zoo Station,” in case you don’t know, refers to the Bahnhof Zoo train station in Berlin. “One,” of course, was an insanely huge single, but is still a song that I think is fantastic. The song is very ambiguous in its meaning, which allows it to take on a very personal meaning.

Zoo Station.mp3

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